Get to know: Dr Shona Blair, Head of Research Strategy

Dr Shona Blair, Head of Research Strategy, Faculty of Medicine

Describe your job in a few words:

Develop and support strategic research initiatives

What’s the best thing about your role?

Supporting world leading researchers, and the team I work with.

What’s the most challenging thing about your role?

Understanding the depth and breadth of the research we do, the complexities of our structure and our engagement with the NHS.

What’s the proudest moment of your career?

Giving a key note address on my research, while the world leader in my field was in the audience, and receiving very positive feedback from him.

I heard that you’ve done some research on bees and honey – tell us a little about that:

As a former microbiologist, I’ve been involved in research into the antimicrobial and other therapeutic properties of honey, with a particular focus on manuka from Australia and New Zealand, for quite a few years.

What the most interesting thing you’ve found out through this work?

Active honey is the only thing I’d use as a wound dressing (way more effective than the conventional silver-based dressings), particularly because it is so active against multidrug-resistant pathogens.

What is the one thing you would like to do before you die?

Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway, from Russia to China.

How are you getting on with this?

I’ve looked up the train timetable.

What’s the skill you’re most grateful for?

Being able to see the forest for the trees, and staying calm regardless of the state of the forest (or the trees).

What book do you recommend most to others?

Non-fiction: The man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sacks

Fiction: The Shipping News – Annie Proulx

What does your desk look like?


Who’s your science hero/inspiration?

Professor Peter Molan – he discovered the unusual antimicrobial activity of manuka, was a phenomenal scientist and a wonderful human being.

Name a machine / software /object you couldn’t do your job without:

My computer

Favourite scientific element:

Helium – because I love helium balloons

Where is your favourite place to visit in the world?

The Australian bush

Which three things could you not do without?

Laughter, bees, vegemite

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A pilot

Tell us something surprising about yourself

I am closely involved in the beekeeping industry, but I’m incredibly allergic to bees (they have put me in hospital a couple of times), and I don’t like the taste of honey.

Would you like to be profiled for next month’s newsletter or nominate a colleague?  If you have a suggestion for someone you would like to us to profile for the ‘Get to know’ feature, let us know.

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